Today, in the 21st century the biggest driver of socio-economic activity and growth is technology. Over the last couple of decades technology has advanced at a rapid pace impacting the lives of every individual and has changed the world around us completely. The curve of technology and knowledge growth is becoming steeper by the day due to increased R&D activity, new scientific breakthroughs in all fields, and because of increased convergence among key areas (engineering, ICT, nanotech, biotech). That’s why we say, 21st century economy is a new/knowledge economy.
The explosive growth in the global knowledge base and the ability to acquire and leverage knowledge has emerged as the key source of competitive advantage for individuals/organizations.
Unfortunately the pace of learning at individual and organization levels is relatively flat as compared to the pace of knowledge base increase. The socio-economic impact of technology growth can not be maximized unless people continuously learn and increase their knowledge moreover a much higher proportion of people need to be educated so that knowledge based contribution to the GDP can be increased.
Today, education is just hygiene factor; people need to continuously learn to be employable, productive and competitive. Currently all key scientific and technology areas (others too) globally face an existing or impending supply shortage in terms of quality & quantity of human resources which can potentially be met only through BRIC countries.
The next level of competitive advantage especially for technology and knowledge intensive companies can only come by finding ways of (imperatives):
- Raising the level of average employee productivity and minimizing variation from mean.
- Grooming supply in pipeline and make them productive before induction.
- Create new supply from the base of the pyramid in collaboration with industry, govt. & NGOs.
Key Current Tends
Importance of knowledge
In the knowledge economy, knowledge is the only source of competitive advantage and the biggest challenge is to keep pace with the rapid technology advancement and leverage it for business benefit therefore organizations and people today need to continuously enhance their knowledge to survive and to excel. Technology advancement and growing demand for knowledge workers in the economy has made education a hygiene factor and continuous learning is the norm. That’s may be the reason why e-Learning is emerging as the next big thing. And the most widely used method of least cost e-learning is self-learning through exploration of the web (using google! and online networking).
The Internet/WWW has emerged as the only global unifying platform for enabling One World. It has brought the global citizens together and has provided them a platform to communicate, collaborate and transact globally. It is the only platform that can integrate one with all and in the remotest of the places. Web has made it possible for everyone to access global information and express themselves irrespective of caste, creed, religion or economic status.
Customer is truly the King
With increased awareness and many choices people/customer have become very powerful and demanding. Booming economies of India and china is increasing the purchasing power of 1/3 of humanity. Customer today demands best product and service at least cost.
The web user in early years of the web called web mail killer app; today it’s taken for granted. They were sceptical about using web for payments; today e-banking and e-business is a norm. The web user’s behaviour has been demanding and evolving very fast what is exciting today is taken for granted in few months.
Painting the future
Given the current scenario and trends in technology and customer behaviour, it seems that a niwTM (read new) world is emerging and within next 10 years we will find that world around us has completely changed again.
The niw world
A lot of what we use to call as fiction is increasingly becoming reality. Three key factors which are driving this change are:
The Nano Factor: MEMS and nano will lead to miniaturization of electronic devices and equipment. Computing speed will break new barriers; everything can become stronger and smarter (like clothes, roads, metals/alloys). New possibilities are emerging with nano, ICT and biotech convergence.
The Intelligence Factor: Till now IT enabled us to capture data and get information. Now we want it to provide human level intelligence so that we need to do less. Devices and consumer/business applications are becoming more intelligent to understand our needs better and deliver accordingly. Machines are becoming more proactive, they need to predict and act on their own without us telling them what to do. The new Web is becoming intelligent and interoperable by going semantic and services oriented.
The Wireless Factor: The entire industrial and IT revolution was powered by wires carrying electricity, signals and data. Today we get irritated with wires only because the poor thing entangles, takes effort to connect or reduces the beauty of our room/desk. After data and signals now electricity has gone wireless. Products will be out soon. MEMS and nano are enabling devices and equipments to generate their own electricity. This will increase pervasiveness and will allow devices to work in extreme conditions and remote areas while being centrally connected and managed.
The new Web
Given web as the only globally unifying platform and with increasing penetration of broadband it is reasonably certain that the Web will be all pervasive and central to everybody’s life especially for learning, networking and transacting.
Web 2.0/3.0 & Internet 2 will change the way we use computing and Web. The new Web is increasingly becoming personalized, social, participative, intelligent and pervasive besides becoming faster and desktop like.
Internet penetration in developed economies is already around 70%. India and china account for 17% of the 1Bn internet users (India currently has approx 37mn internet users) with penetration levels at only 5.4% & 9.4 % respectively. Given the growing penetration in India & china and their huge potential internet user base, it is certain that the next Billion users of the web will be primarily youth from India and china (54% of Indian population is below 30 yrs).
Peep into the future
Checkout the links below to see what the niw world have in store.
- Nokia “Morph” concept phone
- Nokia “Morph” concept phone (with youTube video)
- Special Reports: 10 Emerging Technologies 2008 on MIT’s www.technologyreview.com
- A new device tracks activity and sleep patterns 24-7
- A novel medical device could treat eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration
- Philips Lumalive combines colourful dynamic light with textiles
Moral of the story
The niw world is happening…and managing knowledge for advantage is the art to learn and master at individual and organizational level.
[Guest article by Sumeet Anand, Founder of Kreeo].
(This article is part of our series inviting entrepreneurs to contribute and win free entry ticket to Nasscom Product Conclave.)